June 18, 2008

Renowned lodging analyst Bjorn Hanson is retiring from his position as global industry leader, hospitality and leisure, for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Beginning in the fall, Hanson will join the full-time faculty of New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, where he has guest lectured for the past 16 years. In making his announcement, Hanson said, “I have now reached the age the nice way of describing it when there is no longer a discount for early retirement and am able to pursue my other career passion: education.” Hanson joined PWC in 1990 and founded the firm’s hospitality and leisure practice.

Regent Hotels & Resorts is terminating its agreement to manage a new 150-room luxury hotel at Battery Wharf in Boston that had been scheduled to open this summer. "Philosophical differences on strategies for the project emerged which [Battery Wharf developer] RBW and Regent have been unable to resolve," Regent said in a statement. The owners are searching for a new hotel company to take on the property, which has 6,200 square feet of meeting space, an 18,000-square-foot spa and a restaurant from chef Guy Martin.

The 76-room Heritage Hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla., will be converted to the Hotel Indigo St. Petersburg Downtown-North in early 2009. A $3 million renovation will add a casual gourmet restaurant, Phi; a fitness center; a 24-hour business center; an outdoor pool, and 3,200 square feet of meeting space.

Le Meridien is continuing to expand into Asia. Le Meridien Taipei, the brand's first property in Taiwan, will open in 2011 in the city's central business district and will feature 161 rooms and 17,000 square feet of meeting space. The 345-room Le Meridien Xiamen, scheduled to open in 2008, will have 24,000 square feet of meeting space. Le Meridien also has five properties planned for Thailand, the first of which will debut in 2009.

A 226-room Aloft hotel is planned for Las Vegas, two blocks east of the Strip. Local development firm LaPour expects to break ground on the project in the second quarter of this year and is projecting an opening in the third quarter of 2009. LaPour also is working with Starwood to open the 123-room Element Las Vegas Summerlin, adjacent to the Nevada Cancer Institute in the master-planned Summerlin community. The property is slated to open in November of this year.

Part of a $180 million renovation, the new Ritz-Carlton Spa at the 463-room Ritz-Carlton Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii, opened Monday. The facility features 15 treatment rooms that offer traditional, Hawaiian-inspired therapies, as well as private outdoor shower gardens, couples cabanas, steam rooms, saunas and whirlpools.

The Dallas Morning News reported yesterday that the City Council will enter into exclusive negotiations with local development firm Matthews Southwest to build a convention center hotel. Ron Natinsky, chairman of the council's economic development committee, told the paper that the firm "provided us with a proposal that best addresses the guidelines we've given them." Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway added, "Their proposal offered a lot of excitement -- more than just a hotel. There's retail, entertainment, everything."